Dog nutrition is almost as confusing as human nutrition, and knowing what to feed your dog can be tough. You want them to be happy and healthy, and so you make an effort to feed them the best food you can buy. Unfortunately, if you go to the supermarket and buy the foods that are labeled as ‘healthy or ‘all natural’ you are not necessarily getting the best stuff for your dog. There are so many of these brands that claim to be great for your pet but in reality, they’re no different to the cheaper alternatives and none of them are great for your dog. It’s just clever marketing that plays on your desire to keep your dog healthy.
Guidelines about pet food labeling are far less strict than they are on human food, so you can’t really trust anything that is on the label. The only thing you should be looking at when you are trying to pick the right dog food is the ingredients list. This should tell you everything you need to know to make the right decision. The problem is, most people don’t know what they’re looking for. If you look online, you’ll find so many different tips about dog nutrition, some of them true and some of them false. So, how do you separate the two? In a lot of cases, it is unclear whether the advice is good or not because there is a lack of evidence, but there are some tips that have been proven. These are the best dog nutrition tips that are actually backed by science.
Natural Ingredients Are Best
This one is a bit of common sense, and it follows the same rules that you would with your own food. Natural ingredients are best and lots of additives or processed foods are not good. Dogs evolved eating natural food in the wild, not eating processed meats from a factory, so wholefoods are best. The processes used to create a lot of the commercial pet food that you can buy will reduce the nutritional value a lot, so your dog is essentially eating empty calories and they will be lacking in certain vitamins and minerals.
When you are looking at the ingredients list, you should look for food that has a short ingredients list, and the main ingredients should be all natural products that you recognize. That’s an indication that the food is made using simple, whole foods that have not been processed. But if there is a very long list of ingredients and they all have strange names that you have never heard of, that’s not good food for your dog.
Homemade Isn’t Always Better
A lot of people assume that homemade food is better because you have more control over the ingredients and you can make sure that it is all natural. However, that isn’t always the case. Homemade food is usually better than a lot of the cheap commercial pet food that you can buy because it is not as processed and has a higher nutritional content. But it’s important to remember that using natural ingredients doesn’t guarantee the right nutritional balance. Good pet food recipes are carefully crafted to get the exact balance of nutrients that your dog needs. But you are not an expert in dog nutrition and if you are making your food at home, you are not getting that balance.
The other issue is the cost because most homemade dog foods are going to be quite a bit more expensive and more time consuming for you to make. If you are willing to take the extra time and bear the extra cost, that’s fine. But you need to make sure that you find reliable dog food recipes and you use the right added supplements to ensure that they are getting everything that they need. In most cases, it’s best to play it safe and leave it to the professionals. You can give your dog homemade snacks, like fruit and vegetables which are good for nutrition, but it’s usually best to buy their main food ready-made.
Take Specific Characteristics Into Account
There is no such thing as the perfect food for dogs because all dogs are different. The nutritional needs of a dog depend on the breed, age, and any health issues that they may have. For example, overweight Dalmatian dog food has the perfect balance of nutrients and calories to help a dog of that specific breed to lose weight. But if you fed it to a dog of a different breed that is a healthy weight, you may find that they are lacking in a lot of important nutrients. It’s also very important that you make changes to food as your dog gets older because their needs change. They are not as active so they do not need quite as many calories, and there are certain nutrients that they need in greater quantities to help protect them against age-related diseases. The only way that you can be certain that your dog is getting the right food is to take into account all of these different characteristics and most importantly, seek advice from your vet about what they should be eating.
Look For Taurine
Taurine is an ingredient that you may have heard of because it is contained in most energy drinks, but most people don’t realize that it’s very important for dogs as well. Taurine is a very important amino acid that dogs need, so when you are buying food, it’s vital that you always go for ones that have Taurine listed in the ingredients. Studies show that dogs with a Taurine deficiency are more likely to suffer from an enlarged heart, which can be incredibly dangerous. Certain breeds of dog, like cocker spaniels and Newfoundlands, are more susceptible to Taurine deficiency so they need to be monitored closely, but it is an issue you should be aware of in all dogs.
There is a lot of information out there about dog nutrition, but it’s hard to know what you can trust. These tips are backed by science, so you can be sure that they are safe to follow. If you are ever in doubt, always ask your vet and they will give you good guidance.